Why Using the Correct Western Saddle Pad When Horse Riding Is Important?

A lot goes into riding a horse that we do not realize when we first get into the hobby. Besides finding a ranch or something of the sort, there is also the matter of getting the correct equipment both for yourself and the animal.

After all, you do not want to cause discomfort for either. That is why something like the saddle pad is so important. We need to choose the best one for our needs to ensure safety for both parties. Whether you are an experienced rider or a rookie enthusiast, hopefully, this article can provide some guidance on this topic for you!

What is a Saddle Pad?
There are a few names for them – you may be more familiar with cloth or blanket, for example.  They are the material that is placed under a saddle for padding. Learn about this here. There are a few reasons to use them. Often, it is to absorb any sweat, provide cushion, and keep the back of your horse protected from the uncomfortable saddle material.

As far as the “Western” style goes, it is the primary one used in the United States. This is characterized by a blanket-like style. For the most part, they are made of materials like synthetic fibers, wool, or cotton.

Some key features to look for in a pad are shock absorption and things that will minimize fatigue for your horse. After all, carrying a human around is hard work. We should always care for our animals and make sure they are not being unnecessarily strained.

Horse Safety
While horseback riding, there are some basic safety rules everyone needs to follow. It might not seem relevant to this topic, but I assure you, it is – you see, having proper riding gear is a part of this. Naturally, this includes the saddle pad.

When it comes to western horse riding, you will want to keep a few things in mind as you begin.  Even approaching your horse should be done delicately. You should always speak to help alert the animal that you are there. Otherwise, they could be startled.

Next, you should not try to lead the animal only via the halter. This is because you will not have any method of control if they do get frightened by something. Rather, you should attach a lead rope to the halter for any leading.

Next, let us discuss the relevant safety gear. Obviously, this includes a helmet. We might only think of a bicycle or motorcycle when it comes to wearing protective headgear, but it is also relevant in this application. Trust me – if you do end up falling off the back, you will be glad you
are protecting your head.

There is also the matter of shoes. Again, this should be in a style that offers some shelter to your feet. Ideally, both the toes and heels will be hard. Something else is the stirrups, there to rest your feet on but also to release them if you do end up falling.

Finally, we have reached the saddle. This is the seat that you tie onto the back of the horse and can sit on to allow you to ride. Some brave riders go without one, but most prefer to utilize them as it makes the activity much easier.

Obviously, the material for them should be comfortable and sturdy. However, you should also consider what is underneath. Yes – this includes the padding! What makes for the best type though?

As I mentioned above, they are meant to reduce stress on your animal, catch sweat, and cushion the seat. You should look for one that provides an ergonomic design, for one thing.  Shock absorption is another feature to prioritize.

Some of them can absorb shock horizontally across the padding and not compress in the process – certainly unique, and worth any extra costs. While it might not seem like something important, what this means in practice is that there is extraordinarily little extra movement for
the rider. That is certainly something to hype up.

Less extra bouncing and movement mean both you and your animal can relax more during the ride. This lets you bond with them better. It also means that you can go a little longer since the stress on them is reduced.

What is nice about some of the cotton pads that offer this feature is that they are beneficial to the rider as well. You see, there are impacts on our own spines as well during the activity. This can be mitigated with the proper type of blanket beneath the saddle, as crazy as that may sound!

Moving on with some safety protocols, which you can learn more about here, https://horseandrider.com/western-horse-life/essential-safety-rules-to-follow/, comes the issue of mounting. This is intimidating for a lot of first-time riders. For myself, I was very nervous.

If you are new to the hobby or sport, you should have an instructor or aide with you to assist, just in case. For those of us who are experienced, this probably is not necessary. Just remember that you should not get onto your horse if there is something above you.

The final thing I will mention today is that you should always be paying attention while you are riding. If you let your concentration lapse too much, things can easily go wrong. This is not to say that you cannot relax and spend the time connecting with your animal. However, you should never let yourself get too distracted.

Obviously, the goal is to have fun. This is helpful if you can stay calm and alert while you are in the saddle. You should remind any children of this fact as well, as they can easily let their minds wander (not those adults do not as well).

Just be careful and use your best judgment. You should not go alone onto a trail with your horse if you do not feel ready. It is best to ask an instructor about it if you are a beginner. Even as an expert, exercise caution and get the right equipment for you!